Day Shifting

One thing that’s interesting about working early mornings is I have a good portion of my afternoons free. Generally, I’ve used this time to decompress (read: surf the Internet and play video games). But lately, I’ve had a series of projects I’ve been working on that hasn’t let me get the downtime I usually do. I’ve been productive, but it’s left me feeling pretty exhausted. Although that might also be the seven consecutive work days I’ve put in recently.

I was thinking about how tired and drained I’ve been feeling, and actually started to feel a bit guilty. After all, most of my friends have to work until 5pm or so, while I get at least three hours of the afternoon each day to lounge about. Shouldn’t I be celebrating my good fortune? Am I completely off base with my complaints, in a way that’s not going to garner much sympathy?

So there I was, feeling guilty for feeling drained, just because I had had a few days where I wasn’t able to zone out in front of a screen. But I was missing a very important detail during the self-flagellation: when I (or my friends) had to be at work. True, being home by 2pm would be a pretty sweet deal, if it didn’t entail having to get up at 4am. It’s not that I don’t have more downtime, it’s just that my downtime tends to be in the daylight hours.

The more I toyed with this idea, the more I realized it was true. Even my own experience held up the theory. When I wasn’t working ungodly hours, I regularly stayed up past midnight, reading, playing, what have you. I could sleep in more, which meant I could stay up later. I got to mess around after dinner, rather than after lunch.

And a large part of me still thinks about my schedule that way. I’ve only been doing the early morning thing for a little over a year, which isn’t much time in the grand scheme of things. I still think of the afternoon as “work time,” regardless of whether I’m actually working or not. And if I do end up working on something, like a personal project, web design, or teaching myself how to code, I’m effectively extending my work day to over 12 hours. After which I basically have to start winding down for the night. No wonder I feel drained.

So that’s where my exhausted mind has gone lately. From feeling bad about feeling drained, to realizing that I actually do have a legitimate reason to feel that way. It just takes the right frame of reference.